Monday, June 21, 2010

Reflections on the World Cup

Every so often, we have this debate about soccer. Real Americans, we hear, don't like soccer. Even my own son says that he thought ESPN was running binary code (0010011110)but it turned out to be soccer scores.

There are some conservatives who want to say that it is a liberal's game or that there is just something, I don't know, French about it - even though the French don't seem to have the hang of it during this World Cup.

If we want to ruin sports by politicizing it, I can make an argument that soccer is, in fact, a conservative game. The overwhelming difficulty in scoring reflects an understanding that we live in a fallen world. The fact that plays are made on the fly against a changing geometry of play rather than called in the huddle or signalled from the dugout reflects the spontaneous creativity (Hayek's catallaxy)of the market and stands against the Progressive faith in the administrative state. Its unchanging - even archaic rules - reflect a Burkean commitment to tradition.

I don't like the South African vuvuleza horns either, but it is wrong to say that they are being blown "when nothing is happening." In soccer, there is never such a time. A goal can come quickly - either because of a great play or a defensive lapse - and one goal can determine - often does determine - the outcome of a match. For this reason, there is a tension throughout the game. It could be decided at any moment. Or if one team is ahead, that lead is, on the one hand, a huge obstacle but, on the other, one that might be overcome at any moment. I think the purpose of the horns - annoying as they are - is to magnify that tension.

The important thing is that the US team controls its destiny. It is through if it beats Algeria on Wednesday.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your analysis is spot on. It's disappointing to see so many of my fellow conservatives moan about the beautiful game, especially given how this United States team shows the best of the American spirit.